United Way of Greater New Haven invests in innovative strategies to ensure that young children start school developmentally on track in terms of health, literacy, social, emotional, and intellectual skills. The strategies are part of United Way’s effort to change the odds so that every child and family has the opportunity for a good life.
One initiative is Secure Start, which supports parent-child attachment at the youngest ages. Secure Start provides training and support to community-based organizations to implement a curriculum focused on attachment called “Circle of Security-Parenting.”
The Circle of Security is a relationship-based early intervention program designed to enhance attachment security between parents and children. Decades of university-based research have confirmed that secure children exhibit increased empathy, greater self-esteem, better relationships with parents and peers, enhanced school readiness, and an increased capacity to handle emotions more effectively when compared with children who are not secure.
“So much critical brain development happens in the first three years, one of our key priorities is to focus on programs that serve infants and toddlers and their families,” said Jennifer McGrady Heath, executive vice president at United Way of Greater New Haven.
“We know that children with secure attachment are more educationally, financially and socially successful than children without that strong foundation,” said Heath. “We also know that up to 40 percent of infants in the United States suffer from attachment issues, and that children growing up in poverty are at increased risk of insecure attachment.”
Secure Start partners include Branford Early Childhood Collaborative, Clifford Beers, East Haven Early Childhood Collaborative, EMERGE CT, Fair Haven Community Health Center, Sarah, Inc., Hamden Family Resource Centers, New Haven Family Alliance, New Haven Home Recovery, New Haven Public Schools, Student Parenting and Family Services, West Haven Community House, and West Haven Family Resource Center.
We are working with Dr. Megan Smith from Yale University to evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of the initiative.